RealTime IT News

Thomson's CCBN Buy Ends Corporate Spy Case

In a move that will end an acrimonious lawsuit between the two companies, The Thomson Corporation is buying the remaining 90 percent of Corporate Communications Broadcast Network (CCBN) it doesn't already own.

Terms of the deal between the financial information and data giant and online investor services firm were not disclosed. The agreement is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

The acquisition comes 18 months after CCBN co-founder Jeffrey Parker accused Thomson of using sensitive information gained through Thomson's two designees on CCBN's board to create a competing business.

At the time, Parker said Thomson's alleged actions demonstrated "an egregious disregard for the most basic business ethics." Thomson said the suit resulted from CCBN's "disappointment over ongoing negotiations" and branded it an attempt to discredit it with customers.

In today's announcement, Parker declared himself "delighted" to have reached an agreement with Thomson, noting that the product lines are "highly complementary."

Kevin Marcus, president, corporate group, at Thomson's financial division, talked of a fresh start, saying he doesn't anticipate any lingering bad blood.

"Both organizations are professional and are focused on growing our business and servicing our clients," Marcus told internetnews.com. "Our view is that history is history."

He declined to say whether the acquisition came about because of settlement talks.

Parker, who, with Rob Adler, started CCBN in 1997, has a history with Thomson. In the 1980s, he led three businesses, including First Call, that he later sold to Thomson. Despite apparently reaching an agreement with Thomson, Parker, who serves as chairman and CEO of the privately held firm, isn't staying.

Parker and Adler will depart, CCBN spokeswoman Diane Reid said. Thomson's Marcus confirmed this, although said they would remain as consultants during a transition period.

CCBN is an attractive pickup. It hosts investor relations Web sites, streams quarterly earnings presentations and handles regulatory disclosures for 3,000 customers. These services are must-haves for many public companies after federal full disclosure regulations were instituted.

In addition, the Boston company aggregates company and market data for its StreetEvents service, which has 15,000 subscribers.

Details of the integration have not been announced. CCBN has a total of 380 employees at its headquarters as well as in offices in San Francisco and London. Thomson, whose main base is in Toronto, has a large presence in Boston, occupying rows of buildings in the city's wharf district. It also has facilities in San Francisco and London.

Marcus said Thomson's longterm goal is to have employees work out of the same offices. No decisions will be made until after the deal closes however.